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Friday, May 22, 2009

PC Leadership Race: London Debate

I was fortunate enough to be able to make the London PC Party leadership debate. It was a pretty cordial event. None of the candidates went after each other viciously on their opponent’s style or substance. Instead they actually took care to complement each other and contrast themselves in a thoughtful manner. I was actually impressed and wished that all politicians would debate in such a manner. (Admittedly the format did not lend itself well to confrontation)

I enjoyed the experience, though I noticed that the room tended to be full of various candidates’ supporters and very few ordinary undecided members. So I thought for the sake of those that could not go I would create a summary of what was said. I have my bias, but I did attempt to be as objective in creating this summary as I could. (Didn’t always succeed I admit)

Style (done in the order that they were standing)

Frank Klees: I am not a big fan of Klees and I am presently debating if I should put him last or second last on my ballot. But I have to admit that I was impressed by his speaking ability. He was passionate at all the right moments and was amusing when it was appropriate. He has the rare gift of knowing what to do with his hands while he speaks; so that it emphasises his points rather than distracts. On pure style I would say he won the debate.

Randy Hillier: He was the most passionate and predictably the best at getting the room worked up. He received several cheers from the crowd, and shockingly none of them seemed staged. People were excited by his pro-freedom rhetoric in a manner that I found most gratifying. That being said he tended to trail off a little when not talking about his personal hot buttons. He was pretty inconsistent about his delivery and once nearly degenerated into mumbling. I loved his passion but he has to learn to fake the more boring stuff.

Christine Elliott: She was very poised and soft spoken. Slightly stiff and she failed to pause for applause several times, but otherwise an adequate performance.

Tim Hudak: He spoke with confidence and managed some of Mr. Klees’ tricks to public speaking. Yet his rhetoric was the most annoying and frustrating of all the candidates. He barely allowed a point to be made without making reference to either seniors or the middle class. It became tedious to the point of amusement, and distracted horribly from his performance.

(Sadly I did not make it on time to hear the first two questions)

Question 3 (in order of response): What is your plan to fight the recession?

Tim Hudak: He said that you have to protect middle class families by giving them tax breaks for having babies. He also said that a tax holiday would stop the recession. One good moment was when he attacked corporate welfare as a fundamental flaw to Premier McGuinty’s economic strategy.

Frank Klees: He spoke articulately about the importance of getting government of the backs of business. Said that ‘red tape’ should be cut to improve the economy, but didn’t hint at which regulations he would remove. He also spoke about tax incentives for businesses and a tax amnesty for people who received severance pay.

Randy Hillier: He said, “Government doesn’t create jobs, it chews them up and spits them out.” He spoke very passionately about how regulation kills jobs. He summed up his position with, “tax cuts everywhere and stop the growth of government.”

Christine Elliott: Flat tax. She described beautifully how effective it could be to increase productivity and help Ontario’s economy. Interestingly she referred to it as a stimulus plan. That is one stimulus plan that I like.

Question 4: Would you fund independent schools

Randy Hillier: He said that he would not propose a plan similar to the faith based school funding that was proposed in the 2007 election. He did say that he liked the tax credit idea that was brought in near the end of the PC Party’s last government. He even referred it to as the “tax voucher system.”

Christine Elliott: She said that she wants to have a conversation with the membership if this was an issue that the party should pursue. However, she did say that there were other issues that she felt were more critical in the educational portfolio, such as literacy.

Tim Hudak: Education is a middle class concern. He wants to help the middle class by making middle class children write middle class exit exams. Then he said something else about the middle class.

Frank Klees: No

Question 5: What is your position on Caledonia?

(There was a hushed silence then a nervous laughter after this question)

Randy Hillier: “I believe in this province we should only have one set of laws.” and “Equal application of the law is the only way we can have a free and safe society.” He also said that we don’t need new laws. We just need the political will to enforce the old laws. (He is the only one I quoted because he was just so quote worthy. It was due to his passionate rhetoric and not my bias I swear.)

Christine Elliott: Agrees with everything Randy Hillier said. She talked articulately about the importance of the rule of law. I felt like she really understood why it was important in practice and not just in abstract.

Tim Hudak: Rule of law is a middle class value. (I am not kidding he said that)

Frank Klees: Said he agrees with everything that Randy said. (He literally said that) Brought up an idea he has for a Charter of Property Rights. This would supposedly prevent something like Caledonia from happening again.

Question 6: What would you do to protect Ontario’s environmental and historical heritage?

Tim Hudak: He talked about a bunch of houses he saved when he was in government. He was all about protecting our heritage with government action. He did say that property rights should be protected when considering such issues. (didn’t bring up the middle class)

Frank Klees: He gloated about the Oak Ridge’s Moraine. He then said that property owners should be compensated when the government takes their land.

Randy Hillier: He talked about how enforcing property rights would help protect such heritage. That is if people really wanted to protect it they would buy it and protect it themselves. It was the free market solution to environmentalism. Do not take away the right to enjoy your property and people will work to preserve it.

Christine Elliott: She talked about how the government should give out money to promote the arts. Then she said that people should be compensated when the state steals from them.

Queston 7: with a blank slate how would you build a health system?

Everyone: publically paid for privately delivered. (They all said the same thing)

Tim Hudak: the middle class cares about health.

Question 8: What is the area of most of greatest need for reform?

Christine Elliott: Flat tax.

Tim Hudak: Job one is to bring together the party. Job two is to fix the economy by freezing the minimum wage and temporarily removing one or two taxes. Job three is to help the middle class.

Frank Klees: Empower MPPs to have more say in how government is ran.

Randy Hillier: Make democracy more accountable to the people and not to special interests.

(Note: not all the wording of the questions is exactly how they were asked. They are close enough however to make little practical difference)

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on May 22, 2009 | Permalink


To state that the rule of law is a middle class value, Hudak displays total ignorance of our history and British tradition. Perhaps one should be surprised that he did not claim it is an American value.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-05-24 11:23:43 AM

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